Egypt's president has opened an international economic conference designed to attract billions of dollars' worth of foreign investment, outlining an ambitious recovery plan for his nation's ailing economy.

Addressing hundreds of delegates, including royalty, heads of state, Cabinet ministers and businessmen, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Friday singled out Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait for lavish praise for the billions of dollars they poured into Egypt's empty coffers since the military's ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in June 2013.

El-Sissi also used the gathering in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to emphasize Egypt's uncompromising stand against Islamic militancy and terrorism.

"Egypt has and will always be the first line of defense against the dangers faced by the region," said el-Sissi.